Argentina boasts some of the best mountain ascents in South America, attracting adventurers and mountaineers from around the globe. While Aconcagua is technically the highest peak in the country, and in the Western Hemisphere for that matter, there are so many more incredible peaks to take on – especially deep in the rugged south. What sets Argentina’s mountain ascents apart is the unique terrain of Patagonia.
This region offers a symphony of rocky summits, pristine glaciers, towering fjords and crystalline lakes. Here, climbers can immerse themselves in nature’s raw beauty, navigating wind-swept valleys and experiencing the ever-changing moods of the Patagonian weather. This blend of challenging landscapes and unpredictable conditions adds an element of excitement to every expedition. El Chalten is the best place to base yourself for Argentine mountain ascents as it’s surrounded by the legendary Fitz Roy and Cerro Torre, in addition to other prominent pinnacles.
There are several operators to book guided ascents with in El Chalten, but one stands out from the rest. Led by certified UIAGM-IFMGA guide Merlin Lipshitz, a mountain enthusiast from Bariloche who has lived in El Chalten since 1998, Mountaineering Patagonia specializes in adventures in southern Argentina. They have a team of experts ready to transport you to new heights on mountain ascent programs. Below we cover these in detail. So lace up your boots, pack your gear and embark on a journey that will put you to the test in the breathtaking environment of Patagonia!
Best Mountain Ascents in Argentina
1. Cerro Madsen Ascent
Cerro Madsen, located in the Fitz Roy range area, is the ultimate challenge for mountaineers at a beginner or intermediate level who want to tackle a summit in just a day. Perched at 1,806 meters, Cerro Madsen is no walk in the park – the terrain is distinguished by steep screes and snowy slopes. However, you will be compensated for your efforts by enjoying magnificent views of Fitz Roy and the surrounding glaciers. In actual fact, the view from the top is perhaps the most imposing and closest view of Fitz Roy possible.
This adventure with Mountaineering Patagonia kicks off from El Chalten in the early morning. You get transferred to Hosteria El Pilar before passing through the Fitz Roy Camp. The next stage involves trekking a path to Laguna de los Tres – a picture postcard destination of Patagonia if there ever was one! Here you continue and scale up the rocky ridge east of Cerro Madsen. If there is snow present (which is likely depending on the time of year), gear such as crampons and ice axes will be deployed. In total, the day trip takes between 12 and 14 hours – so expect a strenuous workout. Cerro Madsen is a true mountaineering feat and shouldn’t be underestimated.
2. Cerro Mojon Rojo Ascent
Venturing up the east face of Cerro Mojon Rojo, which stands at 2,163 meters, provides you with excellent views of Fitz Roy and Cerro Torre. This is no doubt a hard climb but it lacks technical requirements. The terrain is characterized by steep screes, scramble and a 20-meter glacier slope that is a class IV. The two day trip to Cerro Mojon Rojo with Mountaineering Patagonia commences towards the popular Laguna Sucia – with Piedras Blancas Glacier and Poincenot Campsite passed along the way.
Afterwards, from Laguna Sucia, the scree and scramble portions up to the rock cave below the Rio Blanco Glacier gets your heart racing! The next day involves waking up before sunrise to walk uphill for 45 minutes until reaching the base of the glacier, from where you continue with crampons and ropes to a rocky ridge. Then you head through grade II & III scramble, do a bit of short-roping and a pitch of IV for 15 to 20 meters – culminating in the summit. The views from the top will take your breath away!
3. Cerro Electrico Climb
One of the most unique mountain ascents in Argentina is Cerro Electrico – a peak that got its name from the fierce noise created by the wind that buzzes through the valley, resembling the sound of thunder. At 2,257 meters, Cerro Electrico is low enough to be completed in a day but with plenty of challenging terrain to keep you on your toes such as steep screes and glacier slopes between 40° to 45°. The highlight of this excursion with Mountaineering Patagonia is without doubt standing on the top where the Fitz Roy range and Piedras Blancas Glacier come into frame.
Before you reach the summit, there are more thrills to be experienced like hiking the trail to Piedra del Fraile and putting on crampons to ascend the glacier. Even from the shoulder, prior to the summit, the views of Fitz Roy appear and leave you astonished! After a lunch break on the top, your journey continues back down the same way you came. All in all this climb takes approximately 12 hours, and requires a mix of technical skills and physical endurance. The Cerro Electrico climb will stir your soul every step of the way as you breathe in fresh air and marvel at inspiring vistas.
4. Cerro Solo Ascent
Although the top of Cerro Solo is only 2,121 meters in elevation, the climb is still physically demanding and should only be attempted by people with high fitness levels or mountaineering experience. There are no technically difficult parts but the combination of steep screes, rough scrambles and glacier slopes makes it a challenge for even the most seasoned mountain adventurer. That being said, the rewards are massive for those who are able to conquer it: iconic views of the jagged Patagonia peaks.
The first of the three days with Mountaineering Patagonia begins with a trek to Laguna Torre from El Chalten. Melted glacier waters form the lagoon and a series of spiky rocks set the backdrop, creating an amazing photo-op. After a wake up call at 2 or 3am, the following day sees you launch into a summit attempt. Along the way, you cross the Fitz Roy River by zipline which is such a fun activity! The trail then starts to wind up Cerro Solo on steep scree and rocky terrain. Once at the base of the glacier you get kitted out in crampons, ice axes and ropes to head up the glacier slope. At the top, the views of Fitz Roy and Cerro Torre make the toiling journey worth it.
5. Aguja Guillaumet Alpine Climb
Featuring jaw-dropping granite spires and spellbinding views from the top, Aguja Guillaumet located near El Chalten enchants climbers with its undeniable grandeur and presence. This alpine ascent involves steep screes, glacier travel, and multi-pitch rock and ice climbing – so technical skills are definitely required. The elevation gain of 2000 meters presents a real challenge but it’s nothing an experienced mountaineer can’t handle. On the three day itinerary with Mountaineering Patagonia, you will be beginning at the Electrico River and approaching the Electrico Valley.
Upon arrival at Piedra del Fraile, the guide leads you up to Piedra Negra where a bivouac site is waiting. This section alone can take up to six hours, completing half of the 2000 meter elevation gain in one stint. Following a short rest, the next morning presents you with an even bigger obstacle: the summit attempt that starts at 2am. Paso Guillaumet is ecountered on the way and it’s known for a mixed terrain of glacier, snow and rock. Then it’s up the Amy Route on the east face. Finally, the summit is reached. *Note that other routes can be selected depending on the weather conditions.